ABBOTT, WILFRED KEESE Name: Wilfred Keese Abbott Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: VF 111 (on exchange duty with the United States Navy - detached from the 4600th ABW) Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Afton WY Date of Loss: 05 September 1966 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 202000N 1055500E (WH956484) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F8E Other Personnel in Incident: none Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 April 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK. REMARKS: 730304 RELSD BY DRV SYNOPSIS: The Vought F8 "Crusader" saw action early in U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. Its fighter models participated both in the first Gulf of Tonkin reprisal in August 1964 and in the myriad attacks against North Vietnam during Operation Rolling Thunder. The Crusader was used exclusively by the Navy and Marine air wings (although there is one U.S. Air Force pilot who was shot down on an F8E) and represented half or more of the carrier fighters in the Gulf of Tonkin during the first four years of the war. The aircraft was credited with nearly 53% of MiG kills in Vietnam. The most frequently used fighter versions of the Crusader in Vietnam were the C, D, and E models although the H and J were also used. The Charlie carried only Sidewinders on fuselage racks, and were assigned such missions as CAP (Combat Air Patrol), flying at higher altitudes. The Echo model had a heavier reinforced wing able to carry extra Sidewinders or bombs, and were used to attack ground targets, giving it increased vulnerability. The Echo version launched with less fuel, to accommodate the larger bomb store, and frequently arrived back at ship low on fuel. The RF models were equipped for photo reconnaissance. The combat attrition rate of the Crusader was comparable to similar fighters. Between 1964 to 1972, eighty-three Crusaders were either lost or destroyed by enemy fire. Another 109 required major rebuilding. 145 Crusader pilots were recovered; 57 were not. Twenty of these pilots were captured and released. The other 43 remained missing at the end of the war. Capt. Wilfred K. Abbott was a pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam on Septemer 5, 1966 in an F8E. His mission had taken him near the borders of Nunh Binh and Nam Ha Provinces, and he was shot down about 10 miles northwest of the city of Ninh Binh. Capt. Abbott successfully ejected from the aircraft, although he was seriously injured, and was captured by the North Vietnamese. For the next seven years, Capt. Abbott was held in various prisoner of war camps, including the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" complex in Hanoi. He was released in the general prisoner release in 1973. Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly held. It's time we brought our men home.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors). UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO WILFRED K. ABBOTT Major - United States Air Force Shot Down: September 5, 1966 Released: March 4, 1973 I was born in Lancaster, California and was raised in both Lancaster and Bishop, California. After graduating from high school in Lancaster, I attended Pasadena City College. In 1957 I entered the Air Force Aviation Cadet Program, receiving my wings and commission in 1958. Upon completion of advanced training, my first operational assignment was in Kansas City, Missouri. While there, I met and married my wife, Sharon. We have managed to raise two fine sons, Michael 13 and Steve 12, during my numerous regular and temporary duty tours, as well as see and enjoy much of the USA. My assignment to Southeast Asia was an exchange tour with the Navy on board the USS Oriskany. I was flying my Navy F-8 Crusader on a bright sunny day, September 5, when I was shot down over North Vietnam. In the ejection my right leg was broken. After the leg was finally operated on, I was in a cast for about four months. It took about two years with my roommates' help to achieve full use of the leg. It was my constant desire not to be a cripple so as to fly again someday. Other than my leg, the treatment and daily routine as a prisoner of war was similar to that described by most of the men. The food was just enough to sustain life. A constant battle was to keep our minds active. In the early years communication was extremely limited, but in the last couple of years we were able to conduct our own educational programs--courses in everything from languages and mathematics to meat cutting, duplicate bridge and Toastmasters. Confidence is perhaps the one word that best describes what sustained me through the years. Confidence in my God, my country, my fellow POWs, my family. At the same time what hurt most was the Americans who came to Hanoi in so-called "peace" delegations. They allowed themselves to be used as propaganda tools by the North Vietnamese against us (the POWs) and our forces in South Vietnam. By exploiting the treasured American right to dissent, as characterized by the anti-war movement, the North Vietnamese tried to undermine our loyalty to the American commitment in Vietnam. Our defense against this tactic was an awareness of the nature of the American free press. True brainwashing took place with the North Vietnamese people who were subjected to a totally controlled government press which distorted the true image of America. As a native of California it was a special joy to reenter the US after six and a half years by circling the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay. My homecoming has served to reenforce the beliefs in America which sustained me during my years as a prisoner. The warmth and sincerity of the welcome by all Americans has been overwhelming. I am eager to resume my Air Force career, while enjoying this great country with my family.
Wilfred Abbott retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel. He and his wife Sharon reside in Alaska.